Michael Ware


TSR: "...its almost unlimited ability to replenish itself"

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Length: 3:16

WOLF BLITZER: For more now on the situation inside Iraq let's go to Baghdad. Michael Ware, our correspondent is standing by. First of all, Michael, on the extraordinarily high number of suicide bombings this week more than, what, ever before? I was pretty surprised to hear that.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're seeing is a regenerated al Qaeda, Wolf. We saw the death of the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in June in a U.S. air strike. What this organization is now displaying is its almost unlimited ability to replenish itself.

They lose its larger-than-life charismatic leader, they replace him immediately with another hard liner, and there is a spike in suicide bombings. And this is compared to a time when Zarqawi himself was able to unleash 11 suicide car bombs in the capital in one day. So you can tell where things are going, Wolf.

BLITZER: There's a new poll, you might have seen it, conducted by the University of Maryland which says that seven out of 10 Iraqis favor a commitment by U.S. led forces in Iraq to withdraw at least within a year. Seventy percent want the United States troops out within the next year. Is that a surprise to you?

WARE: Not really, Wolf, no. I mean there's been a long-term resentment towards the U.S. presence here. I mean it's only ever described in one term, and that's occupation. Be that Sunni, be that Shia. The only people in favor of the U.S. presence here in any ongoing capacity are the Kurds to the north. Otherwise, the Arab Iraqis just want the Americans to get out of the way and let them get on with business. Now, that could be a very bloody and ugly affair; nonetheless, that's what the people want, Wolf.

BLITZER: So the bottom line right now is you take a look at the immediate security situation in and around Baghdad, elsewhere in Iraq, is what?

WARE: Well, to the north with the Kurds it's relatively quiet, however, we see al Qaeda groups or al Qaeda aligned groups regenerated and reformed there. Particularly Ansar al Islam, one of the groups that President Bush targeted during the invasion of 2003. He claimed that group was decimated, yet it's back with a vengeance.

In the south, the south is much more heavily controlled by the Shia militias. Now, they're doing a tradeoff here and their Iranian backers. They want to destabilize the coalition, Brits and Americans in the south, and this is what U.S. military intelligence and British intelligence say.

They want to destabilize these forces just enough so that they're on edge and remain in a force protection mode, and as long as they're focused on that, they don't worry about what else is going on. So by trading off a relatively stable environment this allows the militias and their foreign backers to further entrench themselves within the roots of power in the south -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Michael, thanks very much. Michael Ware reporting from Baghdad.